A Wife’s Letter, on the Eve of Her Husband’s Trial

Published September 17, 2018

Editor’s note: Human rights activist Nguyễn Văn Oai is on trial again, after having previously served four years in prison on charges of attempting to overthrow the government. He was released in 2015, still serving an additional four years of house arrest. On January 19, he was re-arrested for "resisting persons on duty" and failing to comply with his sentence.

The 36-year-old citizen journalist and member of pro-democracy party Việt Tan is recently married. His first child and daughter was born on August 8 as he was awaiting trial. His wife Hồ Thị Châu posted a letter to him on her Facebook page, just before he was originally due to appear in court. The trial was delayed by a month and is now scheduled to take place on Monday, September 18, 2017, in Nghệ An province. We have translated the letter in its entirety below.

A letter to the father of my child, the husband whose wife is constantly missing him and the person whom mother and daughter are always proud of...

Hồ Thị Châu and Nguyễn Văn Oai on their wedding day, with members of the bridal party clad in "Rise up" t-shirts. (Photo: Facebook/Linh Châu)

Hồ Thị Châu and Nguyễn Văn Oai on their wedding day, with members of the bridal party clad in "Rise up" t-shirts. (Photo: Facebook/Linh Châu)

Just before you were kidnapped in the middle of the night, you were still basking in the joy and happiness of the news that I was pregnant. Even before our baby was born and her features took shape, you and I were already imagining what life with a child would be like. You eagerly promised that you would go with me to start looking for baby clothes. A sincere promise made for a day we had been waiting for since we belonged to each other.

But this promise was broken now that you are in this world, without having lived once with your father’s embrace, without having been kissed on the day you entered our world.

Dad broke his promise not because he didn’t love you or didn’t adore your mother, but because his worry for our country and your future weighed heavily on him.

They kidnapped your father, they took away your mother’s happiness and buried in the prison yard his desire to hold you in his arms on the day you were born.

On August 21, they’ll put him on trial, but I believe him. And I also have faith that you believe him, that your father is innocent. Your father’s crime is that he would not stay silent in the face of wrongdoings and allow them to eat our rights alive.

Your father’s sentence has likely already been decided on paper. They just need the trial as a farce, to be able to pronounce the decision. Who knows whether the thing they are calling a public trial will indeed be one. He will be the only one standing there to witness their sham performance.

Whatever the result, you’ll wait with me until your father’s release. When you grow older, you’ll know that your father cared for our country’s sovereignty, for the Vietnamese people during these precarious times. You’ll hold your head high amongst your friends because your father was strong, a hero during peacetime. He didn’t succumb to them even when he was driven to the edge with a punishment just for being a patriot.

Stay strong, dad, so our daughter and I can always be proud of you.

Rest assured that we will strive to live a good life while you stay true to your conscience and your love for our country. Our daughter will only have to worry that one day her dad won’t be him, when he’s retreating, when he’s silent against the injustices in front of him. Who will be look for as our role model then? But daughter, have faith that he won’t be like that. He will always be dad and a source of pride for you and mom. He will lead as an example for you and others to follow in his footsteps, to fully reclaim our dream for true freedom and human rights in Việt Nam.

Until the day that we will see you again, when our daughter can receive the hugs and kisses, the smile she has been waiting for her since the day she was born, just as her friends have the day they were born.

I wish you peace and health and you are in our prayers. We love you!

Hồ Thị Châu and Nguyễn Văn Oai. (Photo: Facebook/Linh Châu)

Hồ Thị Châu and Nguyễn Văn Oai. (Photo: Facebook/Linh Châu)

Loa covered the last time Oai was imprisoned, in Episode 17, Hell Behind Bars